Researchers and professors use scholarly articles to share their research. You yourself often hear about these articles when you read a webpage or hear a news report that starts with "According to a new study...".
Scholarly articles are sometimes also known as peer-reviewed or journal articles. These articles share the details of a single research project.
A scholarly article is usually a good source of information for two reasons.
1. its author was an expert or group of experts sharing the results of thoughtful research
2. scholarly articles go through peer-review before publication. In this case, peer-review means that other experts read the article and decide if it is good enough to publish.
For these reasons, your biology professors will often ask you to or make you use recent scholarly articles. The other tabs of this guide will help with that.
If you want more details on scholarly articles or need help deciding an article is scholarly, continuing reading this tab.
Here are some questions you should ask yourself if you are ever unsure whether an article is scholarly.
What does the title of the article look like?
Titles of scholarly articles probably may use jargon specific to a field of research. They also give some indication that they are reporting the results of an experiment or study; look for words like “study,” “survey,” or “analysis” that tell you what kind of research the article contains. Here are some examples of scholarly article titles:
What is the name of the journal that this article is in?
Scholarly articles appear in what are called scholarly journals. These journals usually have names that contain words like “Journal” or the names of academic disciplines. Here are some examples of scholarly publication titles:
Who wrote it?
Scholarly articles are written by professors or researchers. The first page of a scholarly journal article will list the authors and their degrees and what university of laboratory they work for. Another clue is that articles with multiple authors are more likely to be scholarly. Articles without authors listed, or anonymous authors, are not scholarly.
How is it organized?
Scholarly articles are usually (but not always) divided into labeled sections such as abstract, introduction, literature review (or background), methods, results, discussion, and conclusion.
What does it look like?
It is very common for scholarly articles to have charts, graphs, and tables that display the statistical findings of their research. Scholarly articles typically will not have pictures unless these pictures demonstrate some important point (i.e., the pictures aren't there as eye candy).
Are there references?
Scholarly articles contain extensive citations, both in the body of the text and at the end of the article. Articles without citations are not scholarly.
How long is it?
Scholarly articles are always several pages long or longer. Many are over five pages, and some are even 30 or 40 pages long.
There is another way to find out if an article is scholarly. We subscribe to a database called Ulrichsweb. It has information on periodicals such as journals and magazines. It will often say if a journal is scholarly.
Within Ulrichsweb, search the name of the journal you want to check. In the search results, look for a referee jersey icon next to the name of the journal you searched for. The referee jersey indicates that the journal is refereed (aka scholarly or peer-reviewed):